Is milk all my baby needs to drink?

Milk is all your baby needs to drink from 0-6 months. This can be either breast milk, formula milk, or a combination of both breast and formula milk. 

You should continue to give your baby breast or formula milk until they are at least 1 year of age, and whilst you are weaning them onto solid foods. 

When do babies need to drink water?

Usually breast fed babies do not need extra water until they start weaning at 6 months. Formula fed babies may need extra water before they start weaning, if they are constipated or the weather is hot. 

If you do need to offer your baby extra water and your baby is younger than 6 months of age then it is important to sterilise it (boil the water first and let it cool down).

When should I stop feeding my baby milk?

Your baby can continue to breast feed for as long as you and your baby want to. 

You can continue to give your baby a first stage infant formula milk until they are 1 year of age. 

Hungrier baby milks, follow on milks and growing up milks are not needed and do not offer your baby any additional nutritional benefits. 

When you start to wean your baby you will notice that as your baby starts to eat more solid food the amount of breast or formula milk they want to drink will go down. This is normal.

Cows’ milk

Your baby can have cows’ milk from 6-12 months of age in cooking or mixing with your baby’s food.

Cows’ milk is not suitable to give to your baby as a drink until they are 1 year of age.

From the age of 1 year The Department of Health recommend whole milk until your child is 2 years of age.

From 2 years of age semi-skimmed milk is recommended. Low fat and skimmed milks are not recommended for children under 5 years of age because it does not contain enough calories to meet your growing child’s nutritional needs.

Goat and sheep’s milk

Goats and Sheep’s milk are not recommended for babies under the age of 1 year. If you do choose to offer your baby goats or sheep’s milk please ensure that it is pasteurised. Using unpasteurised milks can increase your baby’s risk of having food poisoning. 

It is important that goat’s milk is not given to babies with cow’s milk allergies.

Soya, oat, almond and rice milk and drinks

You can give your child unsweetened calcium-fortified milk alternatives, such as soya, oat or almond drinks, from the age of 1 as part of a healthy balanced diet.

Babies and young children under 5 years old shouldn't be given rice drinks, because of the levels of arsenic in these products.

If your child has an allergy or intolerance to milk, talk to your health visitor or GP. They can advise you on suitable milk alternatives.

Other soft drinks

Fruit juices, milk shakes, smoothies and fizzy drinks are not suitable for babies and young children. They often contain high levels of sugar which can increase your baby’s risk of tooth decay and damage your baby’s emerging teeth.